Sunday, April 16, 2023

Beef (Netflix)


Like most of its leading characters, Lee Sung Jin's Beef is full of flaws and it takes a while to appreciate these as more endearing than downright annoying.

There was enough entertainment value alone to keep us going through to say episode five, (where things start to properly take off) but I did ponder whether the killer Netflix algorithms had been stirred by completion rates. Anyway, my doubts largely stayed in Vegas. 

The protagonists and their secondaries are complex and yet subtle individuals and they all seem to need a bit of narrative space to properly calibrate within the story. (V was led to speculate whether they had a full roadmap for the story when they started out.)

One of the aforementioned flaws is that the quality of the writing for dialogue fluctuates and is sometimes at its weakest in the most crucial moments. Not really a spoiler, but the ending is disappointingly ambiguous in its ambiguity. I suppose there might just be a follow up to this 'limited' series. 
I remember how South Asians forced their way into the televisual mainstream in the UK in part by playing up to stereotypes — sometimes a little worryingly — and there have been signs of a similar phenomenon in the US as East Asians seize their moment in both film and TV. 
I think I can also see a pattern in Netflix shows in which we come across female characters who have achieved wealth and status in America via an activity which would barely scrape them a living anywhere else  e.g. ‘Plant Lady’ — though Amy here does seem to know how to survive in the dry wilderness, more or less. 

Here however this does ultimately seem to be part of the existential enigma under examination along with the essentially corrupting and self-hatred inducing nature of the Californian variant of material aspiration.

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